NCDP Clips for Friday, May 1st, 2015

NCDP Clips for Friday, May 1st, 2015

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LEGISLATURE 2015

NC lawmakers push bills across hall before deadline (AP) — The North Carolina General Assembly on Thursday completed its marathon week of committee and floor debate that allowed topics in about 200 more bills to stay alive for consideration during this two-year session.

NC legislature’s deadline kills many bills – at least for now (Raleigh News & Observer) — When the state House ended a 12-hour session at 2:26 a.m. Thursday, Speaker Tim Moore’s gavel sounded the apparent death for hundreds of bills filed this legislative session. Thursday marked the “crossover” deadline – an agreed date by which all non-budget bills must have passed either the House or Senate to remain alive for the rest of the session. “A late night,” the speaker tweeted moments after adjournment, “but a productive one.” And one of disappointment for both Democrats and Republicans who left Raleigh for the weekend with dimmed hopes about proposals they’d spent weeks or months developing.

After crossover, what’s next? (WRAL-TV) — Now that the dust has cleared from a flurry of lawmaking this week, what’s next now that lawmakers have moved passed the "crossover" deadline? Plenty.

Bills still alive for NC legislature’s session (Raleigh News & Observer) — The curtain has fallen on Act One of the state legislature’s long session. The following ideas gained approval in the House or the Senate by a key crossover deadline Thursday. That means they remain eligible to be considered for passage this year and next and will get plenty of attention in the coming weeks and months.

House Weakens Environmental Review (Coastal Review) – -In a late-night session, the N.C. House approved a bill that critics and some legislators say will ultimately gut a 40-year-old law that requires environmental review of state projects.

Gay Marriage Backers to Finance Anti-Discrimination Efforts (New York Times) — With gay marriage being debated by the United States Supreme Court, some of the major backers of efforts to legalize it around the country are casting their attention to the next fight: anti-discrimination bills in a variety of states. The new effort, Freedom for All Americans — a $5 million-a-year campaign over the next five years — is predicated on the fights around gay marriage, which played out state by state until reaching the Supreme Court in a fight that, advocates hope, will legalize same-sex marriage nationally. … Those behind the effort plan to ramp up the drive as the 2016 election campaign gets heats up. And they have already been focusing on fighting religious rights bills in places like North Carolina and Georgia.

POLICY & POLITICS

DRIVE TO DRILL: Energy lobbyists behind McCrory’s crusade for Atlantic oil (Facing South) — Instead of moving away from risky offshore oil, the U.S. is now poised to expand exploration and drilling in vast new areas of the ocean. Earlier this year, energy interests scored a major victory when the Obama administration announced it would include waters off the coasts of North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia in a draft five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing beginning in 2017 — the first time a federal lease has been proposed for the Atlantic since the early 1980s. The oil and gas industry’s success in getting Atlantic drilling back on the agenda can be traced in large part to the full-throttle lobbying efforts of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition — a secretive group founded in 2011 to revive and expand offshore drilling in the wake of the BP disaster. Based in the offices of its chairman, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina, the Governors Coalition now includes member governors from nine coastal states.

$60 million in N.C. film tax breaks attracted $240M movie business and 8,400 jobs in NC during 2014 (AP) — The film industry spent just over $240 million on productions filmed in North Carolina last year. That’s according to an audit released on Thursday by the state Department of Revenue. The numbers show that the industry employed about 8,400 people and will receive tax credits of about $60 million for productions filmed during 2014.

Big Dangers for the Next Election (N.Y. Review of Books) — While people are speculating about who will win the presidency more than a year from now, growing dangers to a democratic election, ones that could decide the outcome, are being essentially overlooked. The three dangers are voting restrictions, redistricting, and loose rules on large amounts of money being spent to influence voters. … In North Carolina shortly before the 2014 election, Thom Tillis, the N.C. House speaker and the Republican candidate for the US Senate against the incumbent Kay Hagan, rushed through the legislature one of the harshest voting laws in the country. It cut back the number of days for early voting, eliminated same-day registration, and prohibited people from voting outside their home precincts—all forms of voting heavily relied upon by blacks.

Koch brothers make push to court Latinos (Washington Post) — A group funded by the conservative billionaires offers driving lessons and tax-prep classes in Spanish, and it is planning to expand the programs into more presidential battleground states.

Roles of Presidential Super PACs Expanding (Wall Street Journal) — Fewer donors, writing larger checks, can now bankroll the basics of electioneering, freeing candidates from having to raise large sums in small increments. But it also raises thorny questions, because super PACs and candidates are barred from coordinating their strategy and messages.

Alma Adams, Bradley Byrne start congressional caucus to help historically black colleges(Raleigh News & Observer) — U.S. Reps. Alma Adams, a North Carolina Democrat, and Bradley Byrne, an Alabama Republican, are starting the first bipartisan Congressional Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus.

McCrory nominates Winston-Salem businessman for Utilities Commission post (Winston-Salem Journal) — Gov. Pat McCrory announced Wednesday that he has nominated Lyons Gray, the N.C. Secretary of Revenue, to the N.C. Utilities Commission.

New N.C. Democratic leader well connected in the state (AP) — The new executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party has a history of working with candidates and in government.

Jeb Bush to appear at NC GOP headquarters (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination, is visiting North Carolina.

McCrory pushes multi-billion $ bond package (WBT-TV) — Gov. Pat McCrory, along with former Salisbury mayor and current Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz, made two stops in Rowan County on Thursday, to talk about the nearly $3 billion bond package he wants to get on the ballot for this November.

Senators Propose Acting as ‘Board of Directors’ for VA (Gov. Executive) – Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, proposed that the committee approach the VA like the “board of directors” of a private company with national markets. “It is our fiduciary responsibility to voters to make sure we don’t become a disabler,” he said. “We need to step back and instead of having hearings and chasing shiny objects, we start looking at the VA on a holistic basis.”

SCHOOLS & UNIVERSITIES

Art Pope’s Conservative Think Tank Puts Pressure on N.C.’s Colleges (Chronicle of Higher Education) — The influence of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education appears to be growing in the Republican-led state.

Revisions to education bill shifts funds to help poor schools (McClatchy Newspapers) — North Carolina would get an additional $27.3 million a year for schools as a result of a change in federal education funding that Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., added to the new version of the K-12 education law that’s now before Congress. Burr said his bill fixed what he said was an inequity in federal funding for schools that dated back 14 years to when the legislation was last updated, as the No Child Left Behind law.

It takes schools to fight poverty(EdNC) — Schools fight poverty. Schools ameliorate the physical sting of poverty by serving as societal feeding stations. They do so based on the educational rationale that students can’t learn on empty stomachs. Aside from the educational benefits, free and reduced price lunches offer more than half the public school students in North Carolina at least one proper meal each weekday.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools facing teacher shortage (Winston-Salem Journal) — A class of students at Jefferson Middle School is on its third math teacher this school year. The class’ original teacher retired after the first nine weeks of school. Next came retired math teacher Cindi Goins who took over for the second and third quarters as a long-term substitute. Recently, though, she had to give up the class when she reached a threshold of being considered a “full-time” worker, which would have forced her off of her retiree health plan onto a high-deductible plan. Another retired teacher has come in to finish out the school year. … Such transitions are no longer unusual as school districts across the state – especially large, urban districts like Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools – struggle to fill all of their teaching positions. Teachers in competitive fields, like math and science, have been particularly hard to find, said Beverly Emory, superintendent of the district.

EDITORIALS
Weakening environmental law could damage environment (Winston-Salem Journal) — Legislation in the state House would narrow the application of the State Environmental Policy Act, which would lead to fewer protections for our natural resources. This is the wrong direction for our state to take.

72-hour abortion delay bad NC law, bad medicine (Raleigh News & Observer column) — David Grimes and Amy Bryant: HB 465 would triple the current needless 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion to 72 hours and add intrusive reporting of patient information to Raleigh.